Around 25,000 people live in Ovenden, Illingworth and Mixenden in north Halifax but although there are projects under way there is a need to bring these together and be ready at short notice to bid for funding for others, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet heard.
The wards do not neatly fall into existing national and local authority focus on “towns” so other ways to drive improvements forward have to be found.
Agreeing to develop such a strategy, financially backing it with around £160,000 in the next two years to provide staff and support, councillors heard the communities face ongoing hardship and health challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leader of the Council, Coun Swift says things are happening – improvements at Beechwood Library, walking and cycling schemes and building starting on Mixenden Hub – but the extra support would help achieve more and giving local people more involvement was crucial.
“This will make it easier for that to happen and gives us capacity to develop new ideas.
“Government bidding requirements expect projects to be ready to go, and that takes time and effort,” he said.
Deputy Leader Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said, for example, the Government has a fund to develop problematic, previously industrial, brownfield sites – but there is a large site size threshold for applications.
“We are looking at aggregating a number together, to give it a narrative.
“There are a number of really good projects that might be smaller in individual communities but taken together make a compelling story to Government – the investment is about having the capacity to do that,” she said.
Resources portfolio holder Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) said working with the community was key to see what they need and want, and help unlock project money not available to the council.
Challenges include bringing Mixenden Activity Centre back into use, costed proposals for the Threeways site at Ovenden and pulling together council-owned sites paving the way for 250 new homes to be built, delivering ensuring associated infrastructure such as school places.
The report councillors considered recognises there has been “a sense of disinvestment” in the community.
Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) said the council had to get its relationship with communities right including genuine engagement and commitment to consultation.
Using ongoing issues of pavilion repairs at Shroggs Park as an example she said this meant “making sure we are talking to everyone even if they don’t like what we are saying.”
Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) wanted to see similar measures for all areas that do not fit into “towns” criteria.
There was also a need to improve existing housing stock and the park pavilion issue was a lesson in “a stitch in time saves nine”, he said.
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